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Pillar 5:
A Supporting Research Programme


Align the research programmes to investigate the processes of nutrient loss, and develop mitigation technologies

Key Actions:

  • Enhanced Teagasc capabilities in water quality environmental modelling at field, farm
    and catchment level.
  • Environment proof all major farm system research projects/farms with the inclusion
    of ceramic cups and drainage lysimeters to evaluate the impact of soil type, farming
    system (cropping/grassland) and pasture/crop composition on nutrient loses.
  • Assess water quality data in all major river catchments to identify where knowledge
    transfer campaigns need to focus.
  • Assess the cost effectiveness of nature based solutions (constructed wetlands,
    riparian margins, buffer strips and sediments traps) to reduce the loss of N, P and
    sediment from Irish farming systems.
  • Investigate the influence of fertiliser N timing, rate, type on varying soil types and
    farming systems on N leaching.
  • Investigate animal nutrition and management strategies to increase N use efficiency
    and reduce nutrient losses to water bodies.
  • Assess current slurry storage capacity and infrastructure on farms to minimise nutrient
    loss to water bodies.
  • Design and evaluate new farm infrastructures that mitigate nutrient loss to water.
  • Identify the synergies and trade-offs for wider ecosystem services (GHG, biodiversity,
    production) associated with water quality mitigation measures.
  • Integrate learnings from socio-economic and biophysical research to enhance the
    uptake and performance of management and mitigation practices.
  • Build on ACP learnings to evaluate and demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of water
    quality mitigation measures.

Science-based evidence is key to enhancing our understanding of the processes (hydrological and biogeochemical) that govern the transport of pollutants (e.g. nutrients, sediments, pesticides) to water. Research is also essential to develop technologies to reduce losses from land to water.
Modelling and data analysis is important to identify trends in local water quality and areas where the campaign knowledge transfer programme should focus. Integrating this information, with socio-economic learnings, can enhance the uptake and sustained performance of management and mitigation practices.

Key to this is strong integration between research, specialists, advisors and other stakeholders to identify potential new mitigation methods and distil and disseminate existing knowledge. As part of the process of building the capacity of advisors, the ‘Better Farming for Water’ campaign will focus on supporting the engagement of advisors with the ongoing research projects and the research outcomes.

This will be achieved in a number of ways, including:

  • Inclusion of advisors in research project steering groups;
  • Adopting a bottom up approach with advisor input into potential research areas;
  • Regular research updates (website, e-mail, newsletters, webinars etc.) to address research findings, ongoing trials and emerging issues;
  • An annual forum will be established for the sharing of research initiatives, new projects and outcomes with advisors;
  • Revise the Water Quality Research webpages to facilitate sharing of outputs with advisors, researchers, farmers, policy-makers and other stakeholders;
  • An annual research insights event will be undertaken for the sharing of research initiatives, new projects and outcomes with farmers and the wider industry. The format for the event is likely to include a conference/seminar element combined with a farm walk; and,
  • Input from researchers into training/upskilling activities for advisors, lecturers/teachers, technicians and farm staff.

Key Deliverables

Q4 2024

First year slurry and soiled water survey report published

Q3 2024

Support the making available of water quality data and PIP maps to all stakeholders

Q4 2024

Complete detailed analysis of water quality data from the 6 main catchments to identify where the knowledge transfer programme should concentrate

Q3 2024

Support the development of training material and in-service training